Smarter and more effective financial literacy: A new evaluation tool for FinLit programs

By Jane Rooney, Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader

May 17, 2017

Research is at the core of what we do at FCAC. That’s why I’m using this series of blog posts to highlight some of our recent research and results.

Research is the first step in developing a good financial literacy program, and evaluation is critical in order to refine it. Today I want to talk about a new easy-to-use online tool that will allow financial literacy practitioners to measure how well their programs are performing. 

Stakeholders across the country recognized that there was no existing subject-specific resource for evaluating financial literacy programs in Canada. Practitioners had nowhere to turn to find good, tested questions and to get the data they needed to effectively measure their outcomes. 

That’s why researchers at Prosper Canada, a national charity dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty, decided to build an outcome evaluation tool, with funding from the Canadian Bankers’ Association. FCAC researchers also contributed to the development through subject-matter expertise, input and guidance, in order to align the tool with the National Strategy for Financial Literacy.

During the development process, a working group of international experts studied existing tested questions and scales (sets of questions) in the field of financial literacy, and consulted with experts, practitioners and stakeholders. 

The result is a series of high-quality questions from Canadian and international sources that can be given to participants at the beginning and then again at the end of a program to evaluate its impact. Topics range from creating a budget and reducing debt to accessing financial services and reaching financial goals.

In order to use this tool effectively, we recommend users have an understanding of the program goals and objectives before they begin, so that they choose questions that will accurately measure the impact and/or progress towards expected results. 

The tool also contains a built-in feedback mechanism so that Prosper Canada can improve upon what they’ve built. So please give it a try! 

Next week, I will talk about the exciting release of the results of the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). That release will mark the first-ever national benchmark of financial literacy among Canadian high school students. So stay tuned!

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